Congratulations on your engagement! Whether you expected your proposal or it was a complete surprise, here’s my advice of what to do when you get engaged, now updated for 2021.
Taking the time to enjoy your new status as a fiancé/fiancée is really important. You’re only engaged for a really short time so make the most of it. Flash that sparkler, celebrate with family and friends (on zoom in these Covid times) and enjoy each other. Theres plenty of time for planning!
Speaking of which, it can seem daunting to start planning your wedding. Here is my advice of what to do when you get engaged and you are ready to start planning.
When do we want to marry?
Make a rough decision on when you’d like to get married ( Christmas? Spring? Long hot summer evening?) and how long an engagement you would like.
Do bear in mind that 2021 currently has almost all the 2020 couples who rearranged their weddings as well as the 2021 couples all getting married in one bumper year. As such, venues and suppliers are exceptionally busy. If you want to marry in 2021, do consider picking a weekday (Monday-Thursday) and/or an off season date (January and February, November) to benefit from the widest possible choice of suppliers and venues. I do think that we are going to see this effect spill into 2022 as many spring 2021 brides have already postponed into 2022 – some for the third or more time.
Civil or Religious Ceremony?
There are so many options for couples now that it can seem overwhelming! In England and Wales, civil ceremony with a registrar (either in a licensed venue or registry office) and some religious marriage ceremonies meet the requirements for a ceremony which will result in a legal marriage. You can read more about that here. However (and there are a few exceptions) any other ceremonies probably won’t meet the legal requirements for you to be legally married (though humanist ceremonies are legal in Scotland) which is after all the whole point! If you want to celebrate on the day with an alternative ceremony, then you will need to complete the legalities before or after the big day.
Deciding on a religious ceremony or a civil one is helpful as you will then be able to consider venues in certain areas close to your church or religious venue if you have one in mind. Alternatively, many venues have relationships with their local religious venues and may be able to introduce you.
How many guests?
Once you have decided on the legalities, the next thing to consider is how many people you would like to invite. Theres no point in falling in love with the boutique venue that seats 50 people for the ceremony if your guest list is more like 200! Similarly, a small wedding party might seem lost in a huge venue so ideal guest lists are worth considering.
The big B word! I’d really advise you to ignore a lot of the advice in magazines etc about how much things ‘should’ cost. They are usually miles out and its slightly a case of how long is a piece of string?! One couple may choose to spend £60 on a bouquet as their total flower budget, whilst another might choose to spend £6060 and deck every surface in their venue in florals. Similarly, catering can be as simple as a self serve hog roast for a few hundred pounds or a fine dining menu with a Michelin starred chef for tens of thousands.
My top tip is to work out what you would like to spend on your wedding and work backwards from there. Prioritise what is important to you. Most wedding suppliers are very happy to either work to a budget or explain what they can do in order to assist you at the price you’re hoping to pay. There are suppliers for every budget – but please remember that you will be paying for their expertise and experience and (in general) this is reflected in their prices.
Make time for each other
Its really easy to get lost in the fog of wedding planning. Go on date nights (at home if necessary!) and don’t talk about wedding planning!
Ready to start planning? Read my series on how to choose your suppliers (and I share some of my favourites!) which starts here!